The United States and Georgia have signed a charter on strategic partnership. At the signing ceremony, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "The Charter underscores the principles and outlines a way to advance our relationship and our cooperation in defense, trade, energy security, strengthening democratic institutions, people-to-people contacts, and cultural exchanges."
The Charter also expresses the United States' intent to support Georgia's security and democratic reforms that will help Georgia fulfill the requirements for NATO membership.
"The United States," said Secretary Rice, "supports and will always support Georgia's sovereignty and its territorial integrity, as well as its Euro-Atlantic aspirations and its integration into the institutions of the Euro-Atlantic. The pace of Georgia's integration with NATO," she said, "should depend on the desires of Georgians themselves and on Georgia's ability to meet NATO standards."
Georgian Foreign Affairs Minister Grigol Vashadze said the Charter on Strategic Partnership formalizes the path to closer relations with the U.S. The Charter, he said, will "return [Georgia] to the family of Western and civilized nations."
At the same time, said Mr. Vashadze, "We understand that this document and our strategic partnership brings not only rights, but also obligations to Georgia to be a responsible ally, to be democratic, open, and a liberal society."
Some of those obligations include strengthening media freedom, parliament, judicial reform, the rule of law, civil society, respect for human rights, and anti-corruption efforts. Expanded trade is also essential to promoting global economic growth, development, freedom and prosperity. Under the terms of the Charter, the U.S. plans to support market reforms, increase market access for goods and services, and improve the business climate.
The United States is committed to helping Georgia realize the democratic aspirations of the Rose Revolution. This Charter, said Secretary of State Rice, "will help our two nations realize our shared goals of creating a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world."